Anyone's story of winning the Olympics is bound to be a good one. After all, it is arguably the most prestigious achievement in all of mountain biking. That said, Jolanda Neff's victory in Tokyo last month was especially sweet, given that she's suffered from a string of setbacks that have kept her off the World Cup podium for some time now.
In late 2019, Neff crashed brutally while training and injured her spleen, collapsed a lung, and broke a rib. It was a long road to recovery. When normal World Cup racing resumed in 2021, it seemed as if Neff was climbing back up the results to once again contend for the win, but she crashed and broke her hand in Leogang, just six weeks out from the Olympics.
So, then, when she took the lead early in the Olympic XCO race and continued to lead until she had claimed gold as her own, it had been a long time coming. Let's take a look at the bike that carried her there.
Many speculated about the wavy tape on Neff's downtube at the Olympics. The idea is to make it more difficult for mud to stick to the frame, but in the event that mud does collect on the tape, pulling the tape off the bike would be an easy way to cut the bike's weight back down, even mid-race.
Neff typically runs Bontrager's XR1 or XR3 tires in dry conditions, but opted for the more robust XR2 set because of Tokyo's mud.
Neff's Level Ultimate brakes have titanium bolts to help shave a bit of extra weight. The front and rear suspension locks out with RockShox's TwistLoc system, and Trek designed the Supercaliber to ride more like a hardtail than a locked out full suspension bike when the IsoStrut is locked.
Neff runs a 32t chainring and 10-52t cassette with her Eagle XX1 AXS setup, though she changes the chainring size depending on the course, especially between short, flat XCC and long, steep XCO races.
An MRP chainguide and Bontrager titanium pedals finish it off.
Some personal touches, of course. It's only fitting for the rider who is now the Olympic champion.